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Tanaka stumbles as Yankees fall to Rays in series opener

There was a lengthy chat in the Yankees’ dugout this week between Gerrit Cole and Masahiro Tanaka, the right-handers swapping knowledge on their favorite pitch sequences and detailing the work they perform between starts in order to find success.

Most of Cole’s efforts have been strong, and Tanaka had enjoyed one of the team’s sharpest outings of the year 11 days ago, when he limited the Rays to one hit over five scoreless innings. This time around, Tampa Bay did its homework, hitting Tanaka hard in the Yankees’ 6-3 loss on Tuesday at Yankee Stadium.

Tanaka surrendered two homers, a three-run shot to Brandon Lowe in the third inning and a solo Austin Meadows blast in the fifth, as he was rapped for six runs (five earned) on eight hits over four-plus innings. The Bombers’ six-game winning streak was snapped as they absorbed their first defeat in 11 games at Yankee Stadium this season.

Ten of Tanaka’s 71 pitches registered as hard-hit batted balls, showing an exit velocity of 95 mph or greater. According to Statcast, that is the highest percentage of hard-hit pitches in any of Tanaka’s 168 big league games.

Gary Sánchez and Luke Voit homered off Tampa Bay left-hander Blake Snell, who was charged with three runs on four hits over five innings. Sánchez atoned for a run-scoring passed ball with a fourth-inning blast, his fifth of the season, and Voit — making his first career start in the leadoff spot — added his third home run in the last two games with a two-run shot in the fifth.